Advance HE equality data: 0.7% of UK professors are Black

Advance HE statistics compiled since 2003/4 show that academia is more diverse than ever – but a tiny fraction of the most senior academics are Black

Less than one per cent of UK professors are Black, latest figures compiled by Advance HE show.

The latest annual equality statistical report, covering staff and students in UK higher education in the 2019/20 academic year, shows that just a tiny fraction of professors – 0.7% – are Black.

Of the other 99.3%, 89.1% are white, 4.3% are Asian, and 2.3% are Chinese. Staff with mixed ethnicity comprise 1.4% of professors, and 1.6% belong to another minority ethnic category.

Black staff are less likely than white staff to be on open-ended or permanent contracts, in senior management positions, in professorial roles and on higher salary bands, Advance HE has found.

The 2021 report is the 14th such release. Advance HE, formerly the Equality Challenge Unit, has published the equality data since 2003/4.

The report compiles the ethnicity, gender, age and disability profile of staff and students.

We publish these reports with a view to assist[ing] the wider sector as well as each institution to recognise what progress has been made, but also how much work there is still left to do
– Jonathan Neves, Advance HE

Staff in UK HE are “increasingly more ethnically diverse”, Advance HE statistics show. Over the 14-year life of the report, the proportion of white staff has decreased from 91.4% to 84.6%. The percentage of HE staff that are Black, Asian and minority ethnic has doubled from 8.6% to 15.4%, and these groups now make up 18% of academics. But the report cautions that this statistical grouping masks inequalities. Black HE staff are statistically underrepresented in comparison to the UK Black population, Advance HE warns – 2.8% of staff are Black compared to 3.3% of the population.

More HE staff than ever have disclosed a disability, rising from 3.2% in 2010/11 to 5.5% in 2019/20.

The percentage of women academic staff has risen seven percentage points since the first report, increasing from 40% to 46.7% since 2003/4. Twenty-eight per cent of professors are women. Although they continue to form the majority of first-degree undergraduates (56.1%), women are a minority of postgraduate research students (49.5%)

Jonathan Neves, Advance HE head of business intelligence and surveys, said: “Both challenges and opportunities arise from the 2019/20 data, like the substantial decrease in the ethnicity awarding gap within the last year, but also a marked drop in institutional return rates of staff sexual orientation data.

“We publish these reports with a view to assist[ing] the wider sector as well as each institution to recognise what progress has been made, but also how much work there is still left to do to make UK HE a level-playing field for all staff and students. Thus, rather than a mere overview of how things are in 2021, we urge our readers to view these reports as an evidence-based platform for reflection and action towards our common goal of making HE the best it can be.”


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